The world often feels divisive to me, and one of the worst culprits, astonishingly, is religion. It would be bad enough if it was just the usual schoolboy-ish "My church is better than your church" rant, but some misguided fanatics demonize other churches and some even kill in the name of religion.
Whew. Just typing these words deeply saddens me.
But hope for me can come in small ways.
In my town, for an amazing forty years now, churches have come together to host Walk-a-Mile. People begin at one church and travel church-to-church-to-church on what is traditionally the first Monday night in December. At each church, people hear part of the Christmas story from Scripture and sing a carol or two. Each church is dressed in its Christmas best. More and more people join in the walk as choir members and pastors from each church are added as it progresses. The police ride along on bicycles to keep us safe and people carry flashlights to light our way.
I've walk-a-miled many, many times and it is always a happy experience. Over the years, I've visited largely black churches, churches that sing acapella, traditional mainstream Protestant churches, contemporary Christian churches, Hispanic churches where we sang in Spanish, Catholic churches, huge churches, and tiny churches. Every single church I've visited was filled with the love that means Christianity to me and, happily, I have been able to take a bit of that with me to share with others.
Here are some photos from recent years on Walk-a-Mile.
United Methodist Church of Alvin
Scripture and songs are shared in sign at the Methodist Church.
Guitar accompaniment at the Methodist Church.
Alvin Church of Christ
First Christian Church-Alvin
First Presbyterian Church of Alvin
The choir at the Presbyterian Church.
Grace Episcopal Church of Alvin with Templo Cristo Para Todos (Christ for All Temple, Assembly of God)
Pastors from Templo Cristo Para Todos and Grace Episcopal Church alternately read the Christmas story in Spanish and English.
New Hope Church in Alvin
National Oak, a huge live oak tree, lit for Christmas, just outside New Hope Church.
Thank you to Sprite of Sprite Writes for reviving the Virtual Advent Tour this year and for including me in the tour. I hope you will visit all of the participants in this year's tour and, in doing so, will feel, as I do, a little more hopeful about the world.